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Ne-Yo Speaks On Vybz Kartel, Spice’s ‘Romping Shop’: “I Didn’t Not Clear It”


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Ne-Yo, Vybz Kartel, Spice

Vybz Kartel andSpice hit song Romping Shop is undoubtedly one of the most notable Dancehall tracks of this era.  However, the original track, which had sampled American singer Ne-Yo’s Miss Independent, had to be pulled after the King and Queen Of Dancehall were threatened with a cease and desist, following their failure to obtain clearance.

Now, almost 14 years later, Ne-Yo claims that he actually had his mind set on clearing Romping Shop, especially after so many fans had already gravitated towards it.

“I didn’t not clear it…the streets cleared it right away which made it virtually impossible to not clear it, even if I was thinking about not clearing it which by the way I was never thinking about not clearing it,” he said during the latest episode of Revolt’s Drink Champs podcast.

What Ne-Yo failed to mention was that in early 2009, EMI Music Publishing had written to the Worl’ Boss to have the original version of Romping Shop “destroyed and pulled from all radio stations, television stations and the internet.”  According to a Jamaica Star article, dated January 29, 2009, the publishing company had accused the Dancehall duo of infringing on the copyright license of Miss Independent.

In the letter that was forwarded to the STAR by Kartel himself, EMI Music Publishing composers Shaffer Smith (Ne-Yo), and producers Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen (Stargate) outlined that there was no clearance to sample Miss Independent and, contrary to Ne-Yo’s recent claim, none was going to be granted.

“Clearance of this use of ‘Miss Independent’ has not been sought or obtained and I am informed that clearance will not be forthcoming. Accordingly ‘Ramping Shop’ cannot be released or exploited in any way. Please confirm your acknowledgement and acceptance of this, and that you will arrange that (i) all recordings of the infringing track will be re-called and destroyed and that no further copies will be issued, and (ii) that the audio and/or video will be taken down immediately from all Internet sites,” the letter said.

At the time of the Star interview, the now incarcerated Vybz Kartel was in a compliant spirit and noted that he and producer NotNice were working on a remix.

“The remix will sound like Dancehall, just like what Ne-Yo’s people did when they made Miss Independent … NotNice and I will be doing the remix today (yesterday) so listen out for it by Friday when it is mixed and mastered,” he said at the time.

According to Ainsley ‘NotNice’ Morris, he was forced to remove the song and various “remixes” at least three times since the original release.  “It was mostly Vybz Kartel did deal with it and three different time the song haffi take down, even when we put up the video them take down the audio from the video,” he told WMV today (August 14).

A ‘fixed’ or ‘remixed’ version remains on streaming platforms, while the original is still currently available on YouTube.   


NotNice also explained that Kartel, in response to the letter, was willing to meet them halfway and give up all the publishing rights to the song, in order to allow it to remain in the public in the original format, but the publishing company enforced the cease and desist.

“Kartel told them they can take the publishing from cause we already admit it’s their beat and them say cease and desist same way. Maybe Ne-Yo never have much control that’s why him a seh what him a seh now,” the producer said.

“Out of frustrations me build one that sound completely different. VP, Greensleeves and Tads (Records) haffi take it down three different times. They pay me three different time for every time me relicense the three different versions. Three different company did pay me for it,” he continued.

NotNice said this was the final mix of the song. 

During the Drink Champs sit down, the Because of You singer said he was only notified about Romping Shop, after he was schooled on who Vybz Kartel was. He claimed that after learning about the influence the deejay had, he was open to the idea of allowing him to put his spin on his project.

“Before the song was presented to me, the concept of Vybz Kartel and who he was was presented to me. Like, this is ‘that dude’ oh, and by the way, he did this with your song. It was presented to me like that. So I’m like, so, what are we talking about right now? Of course it’s fine. Why would I have a problem with this?” he asked almost convincingly.

“To this day, I can’t be over there and perform Miss Independentwithout giving props to what the f-ck he did.”

Romping Shop spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at No. 76. The song was ranked at No. 9 on both Pitchfork’s list of the ‘50 Best Dancehall Songs of All Time’ and Billboard’s ‘12 Best Dancehall & Reggaeton Choruses of the 21st Century’.

The track had however caused quite a stir within the local media circles. The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica banned radio and television stations from airing “songs deemed explicitly sexual and violent, even if concealed by bleeps.”

After all the chaos, NeYo remains adamant that he is grateful for what the Dancehall acts did for the song, which, in his opinion, has added to its legacy.

“You created a whole other vibe and that’s just off of the sh-t that I was tryna do. I gotta give you love for that,” he said.

“You gotta realise, it’s generations coming behind you …and if you decide to not let nobody f-ck with what you did because it’s what you did and you gon’ have this pride about it, then them generations don’t get it. Them generations don’t get it experience it, they don’t get to enjoy it.”

Updated: An earlier version of this article did not include comments from NotNice.

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